NH Senate Bill 32 was heard by the Senate Transportation Committee on January 22, 2012.
SB32 is “An Act relative to Selective Service registration upon driver’s license application or renewal.”
The bill’s sponsors are Senators Carson, Cataldo, and Reagan. Also Representatives Lundgren, Notter, and Christiansen.
The current NH driver’s license application has a section labeled Optional. There are 4 boxes an applicant can voluntarily check off. One of them reads, “I am 18 years old and consent to registration with the Selective Service System as required by Federal Law.”
The application is clear. An applicant can choose to register for Selective Service by checking that box. It is an option.
This is referred to as an “opt-in system.” SB32 would give us the opposite. New drivers would be automatically registered for Selective Service via this form unless they chose to opt out.
The current system does not automatically register young men for Selective Service. The applicants have the choice to do it or not. SB32 presents itself as a choice, when it is not. An applicant would have to opt out, or be automatically registered.
The only person at the hearing who spoke in support of the bill was sponsor Senator Sharon Carson. When asked for the reason behind the bill, Senator Carson said that this change is recommended by the Selective Service Bureau.
Mary Lee Sargent spoke in opposition to the bill. She is opposed to the state automatically registering young men for Selective Service, which deprives them of their autonomy. Sargent said this bill is one more example of the increasing militarization of our society. She also pointed out that the Selective Service registration website lists 4 places to register, and DMV’s are not on that list. Ms. Sargent further pointed out that the current law is working just fine, and sees no reason to change it.
Senator David Watters of the Transportation Committee asked if the federal government requires this. The answer is no. It is merely a suggestion.
The next speaker was Iraq War veteran Will Hopkins. He disagrees that the choice to register should be made for young men by the state – that this is not the job of the state.
Dave Tiffany pointed out that 16 and 17 year olds cannot legally enter into contracts, and wondered who we plan to start a war with that we need an army of conscripts.
Arnie Alpert of the NH American Friends Service Committee noted that the AFSC was originally formed to give conscientious objectors a way to do service projects instead of serving in WWI. He also pointed out that none of the forms have a box to check off to show that they are a conscientious objector. Alpert also said that this is not the job of the NH DMV, and there is no reason why 16 year olds should have their data sent to Selective Service.
Senator Watters of the committee asked if someone fails to register and is denied a federal school loan (one of the penalties for failing to register) is there a process to appeal as a conscientious objector. The answer to that is no, there is not.
Devon Chaffee of the NH ACLU also spoke in opposition to the bill. She sees no need for NH to change the current law, and pointed out that it is not the responsibility of the state to enforce federal law.
Rick Daly of the NH DMV stated that the opt in box on the current form is used only for those 18 years old and older. He also said that the change would require time and resources, but was not sure what the actual dollar cost of that would be. In addition to the changes in the forms themselves, the DMV would be required to notify applicants of the legal ramifications of opting out, something that DMV employees are not currently required to do.
Nor should they be. The state of NH should not be enforcing federal laws.
This is another bill that addresses a non-existent problem. It’s a waste of committee time and taxpayer dollars.
It’s also an underhanded way to sign up young men for Selective Service. The decision to register should be an informed decision, one that a young man talks over with his family, not a decision made for him by the state of NH.
The text of the bill is available here.